Gilsangsa Temple – 길상사 (Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do)


Mt. Jeongbyeongsan and a highway overpass together at Gilsangsa Temple in Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Gilsangsa Temple is located on the eastern outskirts of Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do. Situated next to Changwon University, and under the Highway 25 overpass, Gilsangsa Temple is beautifully framed by the neighbouring Mt. Jeongbyeongsan.

First approaching from a little rural road off of Highway 25, you’ll find the Gilsangsa Temple parking lot that hikers also use so that they can explore Mt. Jeongbyeongsan. Passing under a towering overpass, and past an artificial pond, you’ll finally approach the temple courtyard. The first things to greet you are the beautiful gardens and a Koi pond. During the summer months, these gardens come alive with baby-blue hydrangea and pale pink lotus flowers. As for the Koi pond, it’s well stocked with colourful Koi and a Japanese maple situated on an elevated island in the middle of the pond.

Having passed through trees that help canopy the temple gardens, you’ll finally notice the two-story golden main hall at Gilsangsa Temple. It’s the only hall at the temple (besides the monks’ dorms and the visitors’ centre). Out in front of the elevated golden main hall is a stone relief of a triad of figures. In the centre stands Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). This relief is then joined by a row of beautiful pink, potted lotus flowers.

Either heading right or left towards the stairs that lead up to the main hall, you’ll pass by a dense bamboo forest that surrounds the golden Geukrak-jeon on all sides. The bamboo forest is decorated with a string of white paper lanterns. Uniquely, the main altar inside the Geukrak-jeon faces towards the left and not front to back. But when you realize that the main altar faces the west and that the Geukrak-jeon main hall is built for housing Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise), the main hall’s peculiarity starts to make a bit more sense. And joining Amita-bul on the main altar is Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul).

To the far right, and still on the first floor of the Geukrak-jeon, you’ll notice a set of stairs. These stairs lead up to the second story of the main hall. The first site to greet you are row upon row of miniature Buddha statues. The rows upon rows of Buddhas inside the Cheonbul-jeon Hall are joined on the main altar by three larger statues. In the centre of these three statues sits Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). To the far left of this collection of statues hangs a mural dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). This rather plain looking shaman deity is also joined by a solitary statue of Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha), who is tucked away in the far left corner.

HOW TO GET THERE: The easiest way to get to any temple is to take a taxi from the closest intercity bus terminal and Gilsangsa Temple is no different. From the Masan Intercity Bus Terminal, you can take a taxi to Gilsangsa Temple. It’ll take about 22 minutes and cost about 13,500 won.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. Without a doubt, the beautiful two-story golden, Geukrak-jeon main hall is the star attraction at Gilsangsa Temple. With its large open concept that packs a collection of shrines inside this hall, you’ll need to take your time to make sure you see all that the hall has to offer. In addition to this hall, you can also enjoy the unique combination of nature and construction with the closeness of a 500 metre tall mountain that runs up against Highway 25. Additionally, the temple’s gardens are something to enjoy for their vibrancy and colour.


Another beautiful view of the overpass and nature, together.


The reflection of the overpass imprinting itself on the artificial pond.


The forested pathway that leads towards the temple’s main hall.


A beautiful baby blue hydrangea.


A Koi swimming around the shallow pond.


One of the lotus flowers at Gilsangsa Temple.


The golden Geukrak-jeon main hall that’s beautifully framed by the fog covered Mt. Jeongbyeongsan.


A stunning pink lotus flower in full bloom.


A closer look at the two-story golden main hall.


A line of white paper lanterns adorning the thick bamboo forest at Gilsangsa Temple.


The front entrance to the golden main hall.


The main altar inside the Geukrak-jeon.


The winding stairs that lead up to the second-story inside the Geukrak-jeon.


The rows of smaller sized Buddha statues.


Yaksayore-bul who is tucked away in the corner.


Yaksayore-bul is joined by this mural of Sanshin.